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First Alert: First severe weather event of fall on the horizon

Most of our area under a threat for severe thunderstorms next Wednesday
Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 11:05 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s been a long while since we’ve had a legitimate severe weather threat in Central Alabama. There were a few instances of severe weather during the summer and early fall, but they have been few and far between.

It has been even longer since we’ve had a severe weather threat show up many days in advance.

Those streaks are now over.

Severe weather is expected next week.
Severe weather is expected next week.(WSFA 12 News)

The Storm Prediction Center has included chunks of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi in its severe weather outlook for next Wednesday, October 27th. To have an area highlighted for severe weather six days ahead of time is certainly on the rare end of the spectrum.

For Alabama, it’s roughly the southern half of the state that has been included in the risk zone. It’s important to note that risk zones change over time as details become clearer and confidence increases in where severe weather will occur.

So what’s going to happen?

A potent system and its attendant cold front will move across the eastern half of the country next Tuesday and Wednesday. Unlike the past few cold fronts, this one will have adequate ingredients to work with to support a threat of strong to severe thunderstorms.

The risk isn't very high at this point, but this does suggest there will at least be some risk...
The risk isn't very high at this point, but this does suggest there will at least be some risk of severe weather next Wednesday.(WSFA 12 News)

The ingredients we look for -- instability and shear -- don’t look like they will be off the chart at this point. That, however, can change for the better, or for worse. We will have to monitor the models closely over the coming days.

As you can see above, the “Tornado Risk” parameter is near the bottom of the scale for next Wednesday. That tells us there will be at least some severe weather risk (damaging wind gusts and a few tornadoes), but it doesn’t look overwhelming.

Most models keep the ingredients in check, thus capping our severe threat on the low end of the spectrum. As you’d expect, there is a fair amount of forecast model disagreement on how exactly this system and its severe weather risk will materialize.

A potent system and associated cold front will push through the Deep South next Wednesday.
A potent system and associated cold front will push through the Deep South next Wednesday.(WSFA 12 News)

That is why we expect changes to the severe weather threat zone in subsequent Storm Prediction Center outlooks. Be sure to keep checking back as we will grow increasingly confident in how this will play out over the weekend and especially early next week.

With this being the first “legitimate” severe threat in quite some time, this would be a great time to review your severe weather plan, ensure your severe weather kit is prepared and brush up on your severe weather terminology!

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